Precision Construction: the evolution of John Deere’s tech portfolio

Precision Construction

John Deere has outlined its vision for the future of construction equipment technology with the introduction of Precision Construction. 

The new direction builds upon Deere’s existing WorkSight portfolio, leveraging a strong foundation of technology innovations to deliver smart solutions that help customers make more informed business decisions.

Precision Construction provides customers with a suite of technology solutions focused on maximizing uptime and improving productivity. 

“This new strategic direction is entirely focused on our customers. Each solution focused on resolving pain points, as opposed to technology for the sake of technology,” said Andrew Kahler, manager of technology solutions at John Deere. “If it doesn’t work for our customers, it doesn’t work.” 

The shift aligns with Deere’s overarching strategic direction, which aims to provide intelligent, connected machines and applications that help unlock increased value. Earlier this year, the manufacturer also unveiled its Precision Forestry initiative. 

“Precision construction technology is about delivering more intelligent, connected machines and solutions, to help customers make more informed decisions, maximize uptime and get more done,” Kahler said. 

Four pillars

With Precision Construction, Deere is restructuring its existing John Deere technology portfolio, and organizing its current offerings into four focused pillars, Connected Support, Grade Management, Payload Weighing and JDLink Telematics.

Last year at ConExpo, Deere unveiled its Grade Management Path strategy, which provide customers with a wide range of solutions across four platforms, from 2D grade guidance to integrated 3D control, also known as John Deere SmartGrade. 

“This technology takes the guesswork out of grading, helps less experienced operators become more productive more quickly and it also gives veteran operators tools to reduce their workload,” Kahler said. 

He added Deere now has the widest range of OEM grade control options in the industry. 

 “We believe customers should be able to control their grade as effortlessly as they control their fleet,” he said.  

Looking ahead

Moving forward, Deere will expand the capabilities in its four core areas, while also carving a path for new introductions that further support the automation-to-autonomy journey.

Obstacle Intelligence, for example, will provide operators with the tools required to safely and confidently complete the task at hand. 

“We call these ‘show me’ and ‘tell me’ solutions. They help inform operators of their surroundings and improve their situational awareness,” Kahler explained.

 The show me solutions use digital cameras and high-resolution monitors to show the operator what they are unable to see from the seat of the machine. The tell me solutions use radar or sonic detectors to identify potential obstacles on the jobsite and alert the operator of their presence. 

“Obstacle Intelligence will extend across our entire product portfolio,” Kahler said. “Our intention is not to reinvent the wheel with obstacle intelligence, but instead provide a system that communicates the most important information in a familiar way.”

Autonomy

The elements of Smart Construction will help create the route to autonomous machines. 

“We describe the path to autonomy as our automation journey. And it delivers customer value at each and every step,” Kahler said.

Control automation, like SmartGrade, will lead to navigation technology like auto-steering and auto-track. 

The next level is situational awareness automation, which leverages Obstacle Intelligence and machine learning to enable the machine to understand its surroundings. 

Decision automation is next. When the environment and task are known, the machine will be able to decide how to complete the work.  

“Once full optimization is achieved, it’s more than an autonomous machine,” Kahler said. “It’s an optimized system that includes multiple machines and processes, all working at peak productivity and efficiency.”

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